MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Madison woman and her son abandoned their 70-year-old relative after she fell to the floor, going out for pizza rather than administering aid, prosecutors alleged this week. The relative died two days later.
Prosecutors filed charges Tuesday against the victim's 71-year-old sister, Veronica King of Madison, and 45-year-old nephew, Steven King of Evansville. The charges include first-degree reckless homicide, hiding a corpse and recklessly subjecting an individual at risk to abuse.
Online court records didn't list defense attorneys for either defendant Wednesday. The public defender's office told The Associated Press its records Wednesday didn't show that either one had submitted a request for counsel.
Mary Coleman fell while visiting Veronica King's home in May 2009, the criminal complaint said. She allegedly lay there, talking occasionally until she died, according to a Wisconsin State Journal report (http://bit.ly/oyMoR3 ).
"I told her quite frankly to shut up" because someone might call the police, Steven King told investigators.
Veronica King said she gave her dying sister liquids but no food, the complaint said.
Veronica King also told police that after Coleman died, neither she nor her son called to have the body removed "because we had other things to do that day," the complaint said.
The pair allegedly kept the death a secret, stashing the body in the basement and later in the garage until police found her mummified remains wrapped in plastic bags.
The Kings are also charged with bank fraud. The charge stems from allegations that they withdrew cash and wrote checks from Coleman's bank account where her pension and Social Security payments were automatically deposited.
A search warrant filed in 2009 said that Steven King had a number of untreated mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Asperger's syndrome.
Dane County social workers got involved with Coleman a month before she died after a bank worker expressed concern about her health and appearance. A social worker told police she last saw Coleman at Veronica King's house on April 30, 2009, but Coleman canceled a doctor's appointment scheduled for the next day.
A few months later, a guardian for Veronica King called police because no one had seen Coleman recently. Officers who went to the Kings' home smelled what they believed were human remains, and found Coleman's mummified body in the garage.
Steven King told investigators that on May 6, 2009 he and his mother knew Coleman was sick but they didn't take her to a doctor because it was his birthday.
A nurse visited Veronica King the following day but the Kings allegedly hid Coleman from her. Coleman fell after the nurse left.
Dr. Robert Olson, who was Coleman's doctor, told police she had suffered an earlier stroke. He speculated that she might have had another that kept her from getting off the floor, and he said she might have survived and recovered had she received medical care.
Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj